Sunday, August 18, 2013

Offa and Alfred

In those days of course keeping good with the Church had certain advantages. Alfred was so favored by the Pope in Rome that Anglo Saxons living within Rome did not have to pay any sort of duty, tax or tribute. Offa for his part, irritated Rome.  Offa's disagreement with Canterbury, resulted in Offa creating a new archdiocese closer to the heart of Mercia. A place called Lichfield.  In Offa's day, near where  Lichfield Cathedral now stands there would have been a wooden church that contained the bones of Saint Chad, who had converted the Mercian clans to Christianity.

 But beyond not irritating the church, Alfred has yet one more advantage over Offa in the matter of First King of England.  He wanted to increase the level of literacy. Fewer and fewer Anglo Saxons read Latin. Alfred bribed the most learned monks he could find, some of them from Europe, to join his court, where one of their roles was to translate books from Latin into Old English. Alfred himself is said to have translated four books. And it has been said that when it came to teaching the young, Alfred's idea was to first learn to read English, and then if a person was serious about reading they could go on to learn Latin.

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